Big Sky, Montana
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4 users
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nyawira
February 20, 2003
Member since 02/20/2003 🔗
3 posts
Greetings, I was wondering if any of you out there can describe your experiences skiing in Big Sky, Montana. I'm particularly interested in hearing about how you would rate the ski experience there, cross country ski potential, how you found the Big Sky resort as it compares to other ski resorts. If any of you have any property in Big Sky, I'd like to hear about your experiences with that community. Thanks in advance.
johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
February 20, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,923 posts
I seriously considered Big Sky and Big Mountain (BM) for a destination trip this year, but opted in the end to go to the Alps.

The advantages of Montana are the lack of crowds, good snow conditions, epic off piste, and good skier infrastructure (lifts, grooming, skiable acreage, etc). The disadvantages are the bitterly cold weather (especially BM), and the lack of amenities (restaurants, apres ski, etc) compared to CO, UT, and especially the Alps. Bozeman has much more to offer than Kalispell, and is the home of many great climbers and ski-alpinists, including the late Alex Lowe. Outside Magazine rates it as one of the better mid-sized cities to live in for those who enjoy snow sports and the great outdoors. Therefore, I'd probably head there over Kalispell, but Kalispell's access to Glacer National Park is enchanting-especially for summer activities. Also, Kalispell is much less expensive than Bozeman with respect to real estate--another issue you seem interested in.

The Banff, Jasper, Kicking Horse area just over the boarder has a lot more amenities than Montana and the dollar goes a long way there, but you ain't going to escape EXTREME cold in that part of Canada.

Another drawback to MT versus UT or CO for the DC-based skier is the airline situation. There are no direct flights from the DC area to Kalispell and few (if any) to Bozeman. This means 1-2 transfers to get from WAS to the area. Most of my Expedia searches indicated that I would spend 7-8 hours flying and waiting around in airports to get to Kalispell. For that, I'd rather fly direct from IAD to Zurich (a 7 hours and 20 minute flight) or perhaps go to BC and ski Whistler.

Skiing Magazine did a good profile on Montana a few issues back. Might be worth seaching that web site as well as www.skimag.com for background. Also, http://www.goski.com/ and www.ski-guide.com have some candid reader reviews of the resorts in MT.

Rich
February 20, 2003
Member since 11/30/2000 🔗
194 posts
Shhhhhh...Big MOUNTAIN is the best kept secret...so you have to fly thru SLC, but then the slopes & hotel (Grouse Mtn Inn) are less then THIRTY minutes from the Kalispell airport. NO lift lines. Excellent "Northern Exposure" town with great/varied (and inexpensive) restaurants. The micro-brewery is a must do - they aren't licensed to sell beer on premises, so they GIVE IT AWAY - YES, the bar is FREE! I skied more in Europe, but canceled 2 trips there this year - too many hassles now. Sure it's only an 8 hour flight time, but you didn't hear about the airport nightmares (spent many a night in Frankfurt due to missed connections), hit Dulles 4 hours before flight time to get in the BACK of the line, and the 6 hour time change. You'll be wasted the first day or two. Maybe you haven't heard of an "Italian lift line". You will. Forming lines for the chair is an American-thing! Ever heard of "surface lifts"? You'll get plenty of experience. Oh, my favorite is the Portes du Soliel, worst was Cortina. Kitzbul was the Euro-Killington if you are a partier, Grinderwald was scenic. You will find Euro skiing is MUCH bigger then the US, AND half the cost (due to our litigious nature). Not to mention the edible food there, compared to the gray burger & raw hot dogs that make up U.S. cuisine. I love Euro skiing, just worn down now. If considering Big Sky, I'd do Big Mountain.
nyawira
February 20, 2003
Member since 02/20/2003 🔗
3 posts
Thanks, Johnfmh, I appreciate the great feedback. I am researching places where I might invest in some vacation property with good rental potential that's within my price range. Many of the places in Utah and Colorado are out of my range, but Big Sky has some good stuff in the $150,000 range.

I want to be able to purchase a place in a location where I would enjoy visiting regularly for a week or two a year. I ski and I kayak, and I enjoy other outdoor activities, such as hiking and mountain biking. I'm not interested particularly in any special amenities, although the town of Bozeman intrigues me. I'm also interested to know what the economy and the character of the town of Big Sky is like, i.e. is it a tacky resort destined for nowheresville, or could it be the next Vail? Any other feedback or just random thoughts is greatly appreciated!

johnfmh - DCSki Columnist
February 20, 2003
Member since 07/18/2001 🔗
1,923 posts
From an investor standpoint, you probably can't go wrong with either location. The article in Skiing describes Montana as the "last big deal" as far as ski real estate investing is concerned. I'd take that with a HUGE grain of salt, but still, the skiing LOOKS beyond good--something Rich confirms. My personal preference is Big Mountain because of the summer hiking opportunities in Glacier--not to mention wildlife viewing. However, Bozeman must also work for those things. Otherwise, why would people like the late Alex Lowe have chosen to live there? I've never been to Bozeman but my wife describes it as sort of a Bethesda meets the mountains: half cafe town/half hard core outdoors. Big Mountain seems more rustic and down to earth, but if you are into stuff like summer symphony, then Bozeman might be a better bet.

One last issue: altitude. BM is further north but at a lower altitude (4500 base/7000 foot summit). Big Sky's base is at 6800 feet and the summit rests at 11,500 feet. If you are sensitive to high altitude, BM might be more pleasant.

[This message has been edited by johnfmh (edited 02-20-2003).]

chambem
February 22, 2003
Member since 03/17/2002 🔗
1 posts
NYAWIRA, Next month will be my fourth year in a row skiing at Big Sky. I recommend it highly.

Last year we took a week prior to Big Sky and visited three small "mom and pop" ski destinations in South West Montana: Discovery, Lost Trail Powder Mountain and Maverick Mountain. Unbelievable! Exceptionally friendly people, very inexpensive skiing, some of the most beautiful scenery, and best skiing in the country. Try http://www.skimt.com/dhski.htm

In this area, your are (literally) in the fly fishing capital of the world. The famed Madison River runs thru Ennis and the Gallatin flows next to Big Sky. Trout in thest rivers are counted in the thousands per mile! See "Flyfisher's Guide to Montana" by Greg Thomas.

I also thought that this would be a great place to invest in ski property. It basically comes down to what you want. If you want an apres-ski destination where your property has rental income potential, Big Sky is the place. If you want just great skiing at an affordable price, there are many alternatives in South West Montana. In any event, you can't go wrong and I highly recommend you go look for yourself.
Good luck, Marty

nyawira
February 24, 2003
Member since 02/20/2003 🔗
3 posts
Thanks very much, Marty! I've all but decided to take a trip out there sometime this summer. I've heard nothing but good things about the area. For some reason, I can't get my mind off of Big Sky and I've never even been there. I know something is right when that happens.

I appreciate all the comments, folks. Sally

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